Swiss dairy group Emmi is to buy local goat’s cheese brand Le Petit Chevrier as it looks to expand its reach in a niche but growing segment in its domestic market.

Emmi will formally acquire the Le Petit Chevrier brand from local dairy business Fromagerie Bettex on 1 January.

The acquisition will give Emmi consumer milk and yoghurt but Le Petit Chevrier’s core business is fresh, soft and semi-hard goat’s cheeses.

A spokesperson for Emmi told just-food that the market for goat’s cheese has grown, on average, in the “low-single digits” between 2005 and 2009. Some 1,600 tonnes are sold in Switzerland, with 60% made by domestic producers.

“It will not make a huge change in terms of volumes but, of course, we want to enlarge the variety of cheese we sell,” the spokesperson said today (3 December).

Swiss consumers, the spokesperson added, were becoming more accustomed to the flavour of goat’s cheese, which was driving increased demand for the products.

The transaction, struck for an undisclosed sum, will also see Emmi take on the production “in stages”, the company said.

Emmi plans to expand production at its Kaltbach site, in northern Switzerland, which already makes ripened goat’s cheese but needs investment to produce fresh products.

The spokesperson said Emmi did not yet know how much it would invest to expand the Kaltbach site but explained the company’s plans include buying some machinery from Bettex.

However, the spokesperson said Emmi’s Kaltbach site would not be able to take on any Bettex employees due to the distance between the two sites.

Bettex, which is based in Vaud in the south-western and French-speaking part of Switzerland, will continue to make milk and milk products at its site, meaning some jobs will remain there, the Emmi spokesperson said.